British Columbia's Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists has fined prominent lobbyist Patrick Kinsella $1,500 for two violations of the Lobbyists Registration Act.
The Act sets a time limit of 10 days for lobbyists to register once they've begun to work with a client. In 2013, Kinsella registered to lobby on behalf of Al Watt Consulting Inc., which was doing business as MariFarma, a medical marijuana company.
Kinsella, a partner in The Progressive Group lobbying firm, began his work with MariFarma on Sept. 1, 2013 but didn't register until Oct. 29, 2013. When he did register, the investigation report said, Kinsella entered an incorrect start date.
The 10-page investigation report from the lobbyists' registrar includes details of the correspondence between investigator Tim Mots and Kinsella, who argued that the failure to register in a timely way was an oversight that he rectified once it came to his attention.
The report also noted that while the intention of Kinsella and MariFarma was to lobby B.C. officials on behalf of MariFarma, the lobbyist and company dropped the plan after initial research determined there were no business opportunities to be had with the province.
"In terms of the gravity and magnitude of the contravention, the LRA makes it clear that transparency includes timeliness," Mots' report said. "This includes the requirement to file an accurate return within the legislated timelines. The goal of transparency is frustrated if the deadlines required by the LRA are not met and information in the return is incorrect."
In assessing a $500 penalty for failing to file a return within 10 days of entering into an undertaking and a $1,000 penalty for entering incorrect information, the report noted there is no evidence Kinsella benefited economically from the contravention or that it was deliberate.
Kinsella's firm was the subject of controversy in 2008 when it was revealed that he and colleague Mark Jiles were promoting their services by claiming close relationships with then premier Gordon Campbell and key cabinet ministers, though neither had registered to lobby in the province.
A second, unrelated, report from the lobbyists' registrar today found that Laura Fitzgerald had registered to lobby for Lundbeck Canada Inc. on May 1, 2014, which was four months after the undertaking began, exceeding the 10-day deadline. The office fined her $500.